Endless fuel queues, runaway inflation, supply chain chaos and a shortage of skilled labour are only some of the issues making Karen Saqr angry. 

The elegant Lebanese director of Karantina public hospital in Beirut, Mrs Saqr has spent the morning in her office making increasingly desperate phone calls to ministries, NGOs and private suppliers, trying to buy the fuel needed to run the facility’s generators in the absence of state electricity. 

“If we stop our generators our babies die,” she says. In the neonatal intensive care unit down the hall, eight tiny babies are kept alive with softly flowing oxygen and regularly beeping machines. 

The situation is perilous. Amid a severe fuel and electricity shortage, the hospital – like most in Lebanon – has only a few days of diesel in reserve.  

The neo-natal intensive care unit at Karantina Public Hospital in Beirut. The hospital has only a few days of diesel in reserve

Credit: Simon Townsley/The Telegraph

The state electricity company is running out of fuel itself and says the country could be in total blackout by the end of the week, leaving private generator owners desperately scouring the black market for diesel.  

“Today we didn’t get fuel yet, and the supplier wants money in fresh dollars, he doesn’t want lira,” Mrs Saqr says between phone calls. 

Posters showing the faces of people killed in the 2020 Beirut blast

Credit: Simon Townsley/The Telegraph


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